A student section that has more than doubled in size in one year got a chance to check out the 2018-19 Buckeyes on Monday night.
On the main floor at Value City Arena, emblazoned with the team’s brand-new court, Ohio State opened its doors to its students for a portion of a practice period. For roughly an hour, the Buckeyes went through situational drills, did some scrimmaging with fluid lineups and closed things out with some shooting drills before literally opening the floor to students.
The 2018-19 #Buckeyes and the @BuckeyeNutHouse at Monday’s open practice for students. pic.twitter.com/WnXsk6bfBE— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) October 16, 2018
It marked the second straight year for such an event. The difference this year is that the Nuthouse has grown from roughly 300 students to more than 800 this year – and that number is still climbing as the start of the season approaches.
After the practice concluded, coach Chris Holtmann had each of the players introduce himself to the dozens of students in attendance before inviting them to the court for a group photo. Following that, students were allowed to mill around, take photos and meet with the players even as some of them, like freshman Luther Muhammad, got in some extra shooting work.
Here are some observations from the event:
*Keyshawn Woods is more fluid on the court than I had anticipated. The graduate transfer from Wake Forest was solid if unspectacular during scrimmaging, but he was able to stick with senior C.J. Jackson throughout, which was something I had questions about coming into the season.
*CJ Walker, who will sit out the season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, was not active for practice. He arrived late, dressed in street clothes, and watched from the bench. Afterward, as the players wound down with some stretching, he walked to the other side of the court for a lengthy conversation with Holtmann. Walker has been dealing with a shoulder issue that has held him out for a portion of the preseason.
*Andre Wesson continues to flash. The junior will be utilized in a variety of roles for Ohio State, but he looks active, aggressive and dialed in. He had several impressive drives to the basket, some at the expense of Kyle Young, and looked like an impact player.
*Young is working on developing his outside game, and he sank a three-pointer early in the scrimmaging.
*All but one of the newcomers was seen playing a variety of roles. Freshman Duane Washington ran both guard spots, freshman Justin Ahrens spent time at both small and power forward, Woods was at both guard spots and small forward in a three-guard lineup and Muhammad was spotted at shooting guard and small forward. Freshman Jaedon LeDee only logged minutes at center during the scrimmaging and often found himself matched against Kaleb Wesson.
*Junior Micah Potter showed flashes. In a defensive drill guarding ball screens, he teamed with Muhammad to force a turnover and earned some praise. He also finished a pick-and-roll with the freshman during the scrimmaging.
*As Holtmann has alluded to in recent interviews, LeDee looks like he’s still adapting to the pace of the game. He got yanked from the scrimmage at one point for not playing hard enough, but did get sent back in soon thereafter.
*The coaches want Kaleb Wesson to stretch defenses and shoot more from the perimeter. He didn’t make any during the scrimmage portion, but he did deliver a nice pump-fake before putting the ball on the deck, spinning toward the elbow and finishing with a banked shot off the glass.
*Jackson looks tough. The senior continues to exceed expectations set when he transferred in from junior college to be JaQuan Lyle’s backup, and his steady play occasionally just blended into the practice today. He did have one nice finish, though, in a drill designed to simulate the final seconds of a game where he drove from the wing and, with Muhammad playing dogged defense every step of the way, finished strong to the rim with his right hand.
*As the players were stretching at the end of practice, a few of the coaches’ young children wandered onto the court. When one of them finally made a shot after multiple efforts, the Nuthouse exploded like Ohio State had just won on a buzzer-beater. It was neat.